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Old 5th June 2017, 22:43   #1
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Default Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Total Time: 50 hours
Total time on wheels: 41 hours
Distance: 1600 kms
Total Diesel : 125L
Overall Mileage: 12.7 kmpl
Diesel Cost : 7750
Toll cost :1100 +1100
Hotel Cost: 8000 for 1 night
Other costs: 12,000
Longest Drive : Aaraku-Hyderabad 715 kms ( with multiple short and long halts in between)
Longest time behind wheel : 8am -7:30am

The Birthday boy ... Code Named - BongDuster

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1111111.jpg

Entering Vizag City




DAY-1

A long weekend was on the way and few of us at office were discussing about how they could just plan and start for a long trip in next hours few years back. I said “lets replicate the scenario”. There was silence for few seconds and then every one took a deep long breadth and started discussing about life. Lunch break went by and there was a certain degree of uneasiness of not doing anything in the long weekend. A friend approached and asked, “were you serious about replicating the scenario”. I just smiled and said, if we have the environment ready we can run the simulations and test the issue. The guy asked, “we are still discussing about the road trip?”. The answer was, “you can create the environment and we can all execute the scenario based issue, but do remember that there is a India vs Pakistan match which I need to watch ”. He smiled and left.

Fast forward 8 hours. The BongDuster was at the ORR heading for Vizag. We started for Vizag around 11pm and reached at 8am. This would be my 3rd visit to Vizag and I was targeting the Harita Resort at Rushikonda beach. That didn’t materialize and all the rooms were booked. The plan was to stay near Rushikonda. We checked in at SaiPriya Resorts close to Indian Cost Guards hub for the beach. The rooms are descent. Except the view it had everything like Harita.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-rajamouli-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-rajamouli-2.jpg


Rested for few hours had our lunch at SeaInn - Raju Gari Dhaba ( Its pretty famous for its sea food). At Ramakrishna Beach, there was entry for vehicle parking and the beach terrain allowed taking vehicles inside. Spotted few tractors near the beach and informed that they are waiting for a fishing boat to arrive and would be there for some time. I decided to take the Duster to the beach touch the waters of Bay Of Bengal. Few meters inside and it was stuck. Deflated the tyres to 20psi and it came out. The beach had a steep slope and there was very less space to take a U turn at the end of beach. Came back to the parking lot in reverse for 200m. It was a fun experience but again never go off-roading without backup vehicles and for me it was the tractors. Also, while doing dune bashing at the beach I make sure of the high and low tide timings. Salt water is very bad for metals but Duster had the 3M anti-corrosive coat for underbody and silencer.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-ramakrishna-beach-2.jpg

Tyre marks of deflated tyres.
Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-stuck-ramakrishna-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-opening-picture-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-ramakrishna-.jpg

View of the beaches we went.
Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-beaches-1.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-beaches-2.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-beaches-3.jpg

Rope Way is the third route to the Kailasagiri hilltop. It's a first of its kind in Andhra Pradesh as well as in the whole of coastal India. It offers a 360-degree view from the fibre-glass cabins while travelling up and down the 375 meter rope way.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-rope-way-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-goddess-.jpg

Fishing Port of Vizag -
Fishing is a most important business in Visakhapatnam. Fishermen have their source of revenue and rely heavily on Fishing Harbour in Vizag. There are several ice plants in the Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour, which supply to the ice wants of the fishermen.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-fishing-.jpg


Places Visited on Day1
Bheemili Beach
Rushikonda Beach
Lawsons Bay Beach
Ramakrishna Beach
Dolphins Nose Light House
Yarada Beach
Gangavaram Beach
Submarine Museum
Rope Way

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-vizag-beaches.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-rajamouli-road.jpg

I dropped the guys at the Submarine Museum and headed to meet few friends who were with the Indian Navy. I met these guys after I got the duster last year and were connected via the facebook TDI page. Duster is a good vehicle but along with it came awesome friends. Marines were put up at a beautiful location. I as a civilian got a chance to enter the premises and the place was wonderful to say the least. Went to their dining and recreation Club and it was sea facing. It was already dark but the Moon made the view even more fantastic.

Sunset at Rushikonda

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-beaches-4.jpg

Few Shots of the Submarine Museum
INS Kursura (S20) was a Kalvari-class diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy. She was India's fifth submarine. Kursura was commissioned on 18 December 1969 and was decommissioned on 27 February 2001 after 31 years of service.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-submarine-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-submarine-2.jpg

One of the member had done a DIY on sound and heat dampening and few more mods on his Duster, spent the rest of the evening discussing about all the details and how he had made the changes. Drove his duster and the clutch was as light as feather and he revealed few tricks about the spring loader and the release springs. Headed back for hotel and realized driving in the city at 8pm was a wrong choice. Reached hotel at 10pm and called it a day.

Meeting the Marine Dusters.
Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-navy-duster-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-navy-dusters-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-view-point-.jpg

Sunrise the next morning, It was just me and the duster, guys were tired but I could not miss the Sunrise.
Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-1-beaches-5.jpg

Last edited by Rehaan : 6th June 2017 at 13:12. Reason: Minor formatting changes :)
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Old 5th June 2017, 23:13   #2
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Default Re: Hyderabad-Aaraku, Celebrating an year of ownership ,Duster AWD

DAY-2
We decided to start very early for Aaraku and ended up checking out at 8am .

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-hotel-morning-.jpg

The plan was to visit
Borra caves
Kathiki Water Falls
Jungle Bells ,Harita
Ananthagiri Hills.

We reached Borra caves around 10am and “booked” bamboo chicken, yes you have to book it before going to the caves are bamboo chicken needs slow cooking inside bamboo shafts.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-bamboo-chicken-.jpg

I was aware of the parking issues at Borra cave. It’s not that the place does not have enough space to park but there was no one to monitor or guide the vehicles. Last time I had spent 45 mins just trying to find the cab driver who had left his vehicle parked in front of my Punto. I decided to stay back in the vehicle and soon enough at 10:30am tourists started arriving and the whole places was a mess. The situation worsened and cab drivers started having conversations that indicated their frustration. I moved the duster 6 times to let another vehicle park behind me. Guys came back unhappy saying it was a sweat bath and the cave smelt like dead bats there was no one to guide or tell the history of the place. Can’t really comment as I had been inside last time during the winters. The bamboo chicken cheered them up however. Stopped over at few places to take some pictures. New viewpoints had come up and they were filled with tourists.

Offbeat Route to Borra Cave.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-araku-offroad-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-araku-offroad-.jpg

Borra Cave

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-borra-.jpg

Aaraku Valley

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-araku-view-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-araku-view-2.jpg

Driving to Aaraku Valley.


View Points of Araku Valley

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-araku-2.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-araku-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-araku-.jpg


Reached the entrance to Kethaki Water falls. A guy approached us and asked if we needed a vehicle to get us there. I asked if private vehicles are not allowed. He grinned and said its allowed but your car can’t make it. Mentally – Challenge Accepted ! Spoke to few bolero, old Jeep and M500 Taxi owners. They said no private vehicle had tried that trail earlier but they were ready to help me out in case I got stuck. I said that’s all I needed and headed for the trail. 100 meters into the trail and I realized why they said Duster can’t make it. The terrain is rocky with very few steep climbs on loose rocks. I could never go beyond the 1st gear and had engaged AUTO. Duster was doing it slowly and steadily. Last kilometer of the trail is very narrow and steep at the same time. I never went beyond 10-15kmph and the Duster AWD started to shine on its home turf. Engaged 4wd lock at one of the climb as it was a long one lots of loose rocks, the lock was just a precautionary measure. Finally reached the spot and I was glad to see the astonishment on the faces of the 4x4 Taxi owners who were already at the spot.

One of the drivers who said he would help in case I got stuck came forward and shook hands, he appreciated the capability of the vehicle. Duster AWD does make things look very easy. I feel it just hits the sweet spot of comfort, handling and off-roadability. After parking the vehicle, we had to trek another 500meters in the dense forest to get to the water falls. It was summer and the fall was not in its full bloom but the drive and the trekking was worth the effort. It started drizzling and eventually started pouring. The return drive became even more tricky with steep descents along muddy and rocky trails.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-ketaki-parking-duster-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-kethaki-2.jpg

The Trekking trail

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-kethaki-trail-2.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-kethaki-trail-.jpg

A locomotive track that ran across the valley

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-kethaki-train-2.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-kethaki-train-.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-kethaki-.jpg

Video Captured of the trail. A 2D surface cannot capture the essence and depth of an offroad trail but this would give some idea.


We were running late and headed for Harita resort at Aaraku for Lunch. There was a Honda quad bike and I decided to spend some time with it. One senior person at the Restaurant asked if we did Kethaki waterfalls and I showed him the video that was captured by the Dash Cam. He insisted that we should try Ananthagiri hills and take an offbeat route. He shared two phone numbers along with his number in case there was any problem. After a sumptuous lunch we headed for Ananthagiri hills and decided to take that route if time permitted while returning. It was past 4pm and we came back along the smooth tarmac road. No offroading post 4pm

Headed straight for Vizag where we had a small plan to meet the Navy friends yet again. They were kind enough to show us around. Went to some of the prides of Indian Navy. We were overwhelmed to see crazy huge defense mechanisms right in front of us. The conversations went like this:

Me: Hey that’s wonderful.
Navy friend: That’s nothing let me show you the Destroyer Ship
Me: Oh woow that’s massive.
Navy friend: Huh , let me show you the Surface to Surface Missiles
Me: Oh boy, this gun is just like Terminator 2
Navy Friend : This gun fires 2500-3000 round per minute.
Me: Mentally – I better shut up now.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2-view-point-.jpg

PS: If you really want to know more about our Navy Squad, this is a good place to start off with.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ian_Navy_ships

Yet another wonderful evening with the Navy folks. After bidding adieu we started for Hyderabad.
The return journey was done with several breaks. Midway there was heavy downpour and thunderbolts prior to that. Duster made things very easy and we reached Hyderabad. Rested and then woke up in the evening to see India crunch Pakistan by 125 runs.

To Sum it up ...
Route used both ways
Hyderabad-Vijaywada – Vizag ,
Google map tends to confuse and tries to enter Rajamundry via Diwancheruvu and use the Godavari 4th bridge. That route is not the best and is under construction at few places. So are the rest of the 3 routes that Google suggests. Now the confusion happens near the Chennai-Srikakulam Highway route. Let me give a perspective.
Below image in Google Map default route. There are basically three routes.
99.6km in 1hr 57 mins – Average speed ~ 49kmph
95.7km in 2hr 17min – Average speed ~48kmph
120kms in 3 hrs – Average speed ~ 40kmph


Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-google-suggested-route-rajaeluru.jpg

What I have found so far while doing Hyderabad-West Bengal numerous times is to stick to NH16.
131 kms in 2hrs 13 mins – Average Speed ~66kmph

Someday Google map will have the ability to do Realtime average speed calculations and suggest the best routes. I guess right now it just suggests based on shortest path.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-rajaeluruvianh16.jpg

Route used at Aaraku
Rushikonda-Borra caves-Kethaki Water falls- Ananthagiri Hills- Vizag
There are two routes and for one you will need to enter northern part of Vizag city which is relatively crowded. And you would be doing 99.7kms in 2 hour 41 mins with Average speed of 37kmph and the other route is via Vizianagaram where you will head north from Rushikonda and touch the NH16. 106kms in 2hr39mins with Average speed of 40kmph. Both the roads are equally scenic.

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-rushiborra.jpg

Duster and the Thunderbolts

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-img_2375.jpg

Video of the drive towards Hyderabad.



**All the pictures have been taken with an iPhone, sorry about the grains


Although it was a very short trip but I have tried to share the route and other details. Hope this helps fellow travelers.

Last edited by Rehaan : 6th June 2017 at 13:11. Reason: Adding some spacing :)
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Old 6th June 2017, 13:12   #3
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Default re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th June 2017, 16:23   #4
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Default re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Great going there Aray ! Awesome log !
I'm really jealous of all your weekend trips. How is the water level at Katika waterfalls. Been almost 8 years that iv been there.
Also, i personally know a few boleros/mm540s which broke their axles in that trail. The trail used to have huge rocks.
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Old 6th June 2017, 17:26   #5
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Default re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Borra Caves parking was quite a nightmare for us too. We parked way behind and walked, rather than get stuck at the entrance. When we went there, they had switched ON the lights - so it was quite colorful inside!

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-_mg_1865.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-_mg_1868.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-_mg_1880.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-_mg_1909.jpg

Any more pics of the off-beat track to Borra Caves? Can you mark it on Google Maps?
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Old 6th June 2017, 17:44   #6
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Default re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Fantastic Log! Good to see that you're actually using the AWD of the Duster, really makes me wish for more AWD options in that segment.

And I especially like your photos, covering everything from the Natural Scenes to the Historical aspects and even off road trails.
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Old 7th June 2017, 16:02   #7
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Default Re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Excellent Travelogue Sir !
While watching your videos, I felt that you were doing some insane speeds. It might be due to the dash cam video. Especially, the video with thunderbolts during your night drive. Your over takings at 0:09 & 0:34 produced some shivers in my spine . Hope you were a very frequent driver on the highway between Hyderabad - West Bengal.
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Old 7th June 2017, 16:37   #8
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Default Re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Fantastic Aray. The short & sweet travelogue is full of knowledge. I would go thru it again before I go to Vizag. The photos are amazing. Your iPhone pictures are always great.

Hulk says Happy Birthday to BongDuster !!

Keep Travelling & Keep Driving !!

Regards

Pawan
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Old 7th June 2017, 18:35   #9
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Default Re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hickstead View Post
Excellent Travelogue Sir !
While watching your videos, I felt that you were doing some insane speeds. It might be due to the dash cam video. Especially, the video with thunderbolts during your night drive. Your over takings at 0:09 & 0:34 produced some shivers in my spine . Hope you were a very frequent driver on the highway between Hyderabad - West Bengal.
Yes I have increased the speed of most videos as the thunderbolts frequency was pretty long and for others I feel people prefer shorter videos.Even I was getting bored while reviewing the videos, I could not let other people watching the video get equally bored.

Last edited by ARAY : 7th June 2017 at 18:43.
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Old 8th June 2017, 01:25   #10
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Default Re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Lovely Travelogue complete with beautiful pictures Reminded me of my Vizag-Araku voyage last year from Kolkata. I really envy that your car made it to Katiki falls, i backed off and didnt take risk as i have to return all the way back home, a thousand km away. Araku is really a nice place to stay for a night and Borra caves is a wonder every indian should experience in real life ! Luckily i went early morning and escaped the rush. Sharing some pics of my trip:

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0041.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0055.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-img_20161009_201957.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0090.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0095.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0120.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0127.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0151.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-dsc_0137.jpg

Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD-2016_10_07_vizag.jpg

Keep up the good work ! Rated 5 stars !
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Old 8th June 2017, 08:03   #11
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Default

Agree that Duster AWD is underrated. Quite capable but seems like ownership cost is high.

Lovely travelogue. Been to Vizag by road couple of times from Delhi. Always wanted to visit Araku and Citrakoot.....well may be next time
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Old 14th June 2017, 22:22   #12
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Default Re: Hyderabad to Araku Valley : Celebrating a year with the Duster AWD

Wonderful narration again ARAY. That's two wonderful back to back travelogues in a row within a short period of time.

Looks like you are a veteran with visits to Vizag. The place gets greener post August when the monsoons spreads its lusciousness around. I stay near the Dolphin light house. Do drop a ping when you visit next time. Probably, we can meet up for a quick chat and coffee.
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